Postscript to 'Impact of food aid delays on refugees'

We asked WFP to comment on this article. The comments below were written by Amir Abdulla and members of the WFP Uganda programme as well as Peter Dijkhuizen of WFP Rome.

The main problem for this refugee programme was the high level of insecurity in the area. This not only affected food transport and distributions but also limited refugee access to land and the potential to provide for themselves. The 50% reduction of food referred to in the article was not a "strategy" but rather a "necessity" at the time. WFP had no option but to make do with a poor food aid pipeline.

It is an imperfect world and WFP rely totally on donors when it comes to food resources. The Uganda protracted relief operation (PRO) was not popular with donors at a time when there were other high profile emergencies in the region. Furthermore, some donors, after visiting the north of Uganda decided to withdraw support totally. With hindsight, WFP believe that the decision to reduce/conserve/stretch scarce resources was an appropriate means of dealing with the uncertainty that confronted us. Had we provided full rations beyond July 1996, we would have run out of food by December 1996 and there would have been a six month period in which the refugees would not have received a single meal.

The poor security situation in the settlement also affected agricultural production as it made it difficult for other agencies to provide necessary agricultural inputs. Had provision of the hybrid seed, the tractors for land clearing/ cultivation and all the agricultural inputs required been feasible, the refugees would not have been so dependent upon food aid.

On the matter of providing retrospective rations it is not WFP practice to consider retrospective feeding. While it is recognised that current nutritional status is based partly on previous food consumption, the practical implications of making up for past ration shortfalls are too difficult to handle. Our approach is to assess current nutritional status and where this is adequate to endeavour to provide a full general ration. Where levels of malnutrition are outside normal ranges we will support selective feeding/medical assistance in addition to basic ration provision.

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Reference this page

Amir Abdulla; Peter Dijkhuizen (1997). Postscript to 'Impact of food aid delays on refugees'. Field Exchange 2, August 1997. p10. www.ennonline.net/fex/2/postscript3